International journalist-author, Pierre van Paassen, weaves together a lifetime of phantasmagorical personal events, ostentatious tall tales and deliciously embellished memories as a travel corespondent, in his epic memoirs, 'To Number Our Days' (405 pages), published in 1964 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Pierre van Paassen is most often cited post-1964, for his unverifiable claim that in 1922, while he was investigating the Leo Frank case files at the Fulton County Superior Courthouse of Atlanta, Georgia, he made an incredible discovery of a shief containing human flesh X-rays and dental photographs from 1913, concealed evidence unequivocally proving Leo Frank was actually innocent of raping and strangling Mary Phagan.
Frankites: Leo Frank's Defenders
Several of the most notable Leo Frank partisan authors (Steve Oney, Leonard Dinnerstein, Elaine Marie Alphin, Jeffrey Paul Melnick and others) cite Pierre van Paassen's alleged earth-shattering discovery as ineluctable proof that posthumously exonerates Leo M. Frank, who they believe, was wrongfully convicted in 1913 of Phagan's murder.
Leo Frank's Detractors
Leo Frank detractors have described Pierre van Paassen's newfangled evidence as an incredulous fraud, dubbing it, "The Mary Phagan Bitemark Hoax", because they believe this dubious material was never mentioned in any of the legal proceedings or hearings concerning Leo Frank's trial and appeals between 1913 to 1915, nor was the subject ever broached or taken seriously by legal scholars during efforts to obtain a posthumous pardon for Frank between the years 1982 to 1986. Moreover, they say, Pierre van Paassen is the only person who ever claims to have seen these non-existent photo medical records.
Excerpt that discusses the case of Leo Frank and Van Paassen's discovery of photographic evidence, pages 237 and 238:
The Jewish community of Atlanta at that time seemed to live under a cloud. Several years previously one of its members, Leo Frank, had been lynched as he was being transferred from the Fulton Tower Prison in Atlanta to Milledgeville for trial on a charge of having raped and murdered a little girl in his warehouse which stood right opposite the Constitution building. Many Jewish citizens who recalled the lynching were unanimous in assuring me that Frank was innocent of the crime.
I took to reading all the evidence pro and con in the record department at the courthouse. Before long I came upon an envelope containing a sheaf of papers and a number of X-ray photographs showing teeth indentures. The murdered girl had been bitten on the left shoulder and neck before being strangled. But the X-ray photos of the teeth marks on her body did not correspond with Leo Frank’s set of teeth of which several photos were included. If those photos had been published at the time of the murder, as they should have been, the lynching would probably not have taken place.
Though, as I said, the man died several years before, it was not too late, I thought, to rehabilitate his memory and perhaps restore the good name of his family. I showed Clark Howell the evidence establishing Frank’s innocence and asked permission to run a series of articles dealing with the case and especially with the evidence just uncovered. Mr. Howell immediately concurred, but the most prominent Jewish lawyer in the city, Mr. Harry Alexander, whom I consulted with a view to have him present the evidence to the grand jury, demurred. He said Frank had not even been tried. Hence no new trial could be requested. Moreover, the Jewish community in its entirety still felt nervous about the incident. If I wrote the articles old resentments might be stirred up and, who knows, some of the unknown lynchers might recognize themselves as participants in my description of the lynching. It was better, Mr. Alexander thought, to leave sleeping lions alone. Some local rabbis were drawn into the discussion and they actually pleaded with Clark Howell to stop me from reviving interest in the Frank case as this was bound to have evil repercussions on the Jewish community.
That someone had blabbed out of school became quite evident when I received a printed warning saying: "Lay off the Frank case if you want to keep healthy." The unsigned warning was reinforced one night or, rather, early one morning when I was driving home. A large automobile drove up alongside of me and forced me into the track of a fast-moving streetcar coming from the opposite direction. My car was demolished, but I escaped without a scratch....
Source: To Number Our Days by Pierre van Paassen (see pages 237, 238 about the Leo Frank case): http://archive.org/details/ToNumberOurDaysByPierreVanPaassen
Scholarly debunking of the Mary Phagan bitemark hoax
In reality, X-ray technology was in its infancy in 1913, and it was never possible to X-ray bite marks on skin in 1913 or today (ask any X-ray technician). Vehicles had virtually no safety features to speak of in 1922, so the chances of someone walking away “without a scratch” from a head-on collision is a bald-faced lie. Was Leo Frank’s appeals attorney named “Harry Alexander” (false) or Henry Alexander (correct)? Leo Frank was not lynched on his way to his murder trial in 1913. He was tried and sentenced to death by Judge Leonard Strickland Roan on August 26, 1913. The hanging took place nearly two years later on August 17, 1915. Leo Frank went on trial in Atlanta, not 170 miles away in Milledgeville where the hoaxer suggests the trial was scheduled.
Oddly enough, even though the 'Mary Phagan bitemark hoax' has been thoroughly debunked by modern scholars and forensic scientists, 21st century efforts by primarily Jewish activists and lesser extent Gentile liberals, to exonerate Leo Frank in the popular culture, continue citing the disingenuous rumors created by Pierre van Paassen as evidence of Leo Frank's innocence.
Leonard Dinnerstein (born May 5, 1934) completed his Ph.D., Dissertation in History on the Leo Max Frank Case (1966) for the Political Science Department of Columbia University. One of the central themes of his dissertation is Anti-Semitism was responsible for railroading an innocent Jewish man, who was convicted for the murder of Mary Phagan in 1913. Dinnerstein's dissertation became the species for his book, "The Leo Frank Case", which would go through a number of editions in its evolution beginning in 1968 when the first edition was released.
1. Leo Frank and the American Jewish Community (1968) by Leonard Dinnerstein: http://archive.org/details/LeoFrankAndTheAmericanJewishCommunity
2. Dinnerstein, Leonard (1966) Leo Frank Case PhD Dissertation in History for the Political Science Department of Columbia University: http://www.archive.org/details/TheLeoFrankCase1966Dissertation
3. The Leo Frank Case Book (published 1968 and thereafter): http://www.archive.org/details/TheLeoFrankCaseByLeonardDinnerstein
4. To Number Our Days by Pierre van Paassen (see pages 237, 238 about the Leo Frank case): http://archive.org/details/ToNumberOurDaysByPierreVanPaassen
5. The Elusive Leo Frank Case Georgia Supreme Court Case Records Archive
(1,800 pages). http://archive.org/details/leo-frank-georgia-supreme-court-case-records-1913-1914